The question of when you should consider upgrading your router comes up often. If you’re reading this article then you’re probably asking yourself, how long do routers last? Well the answer is going to depend on several factors that are both environmental and technological.
First, let’s give you the short answer to “how long do routers last”? The estimated lifetime of a household router is approximately 45,000 hours or about 5 years. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean your router is going to stop functioning after this amount of time.
However, there are several factors that may impact how long your router will last, or maybe more appropriately, how long your router will keep pace with your online streaming needs.
In this article, we’ll explore all the different reasons why you may need to upgrade your router soon rather than later.
Do Routers Wear Out?
Routers, just like any other device, will need to be replaced eventually. The rate of which may vary from one router to another, depending on different reasons.
A common reason routers out-right fail, is due to poor heat ventilation. Heat cannot escape when the ducts are congested with dirt and dust. Do yourself a favor, and check your routers vents now.
To clean your router, unplug it and blow the vents out using compressed air. You can also use a cotton swab to scoop the dust. Apply a slow scooping motion since poking the dust will only push the dust further inside, not healthy.
How Long Do Routers Last?
As indicated above, the lifetime of a household router is approximately 45, 000 hours, whereas that of a commercial router can last upwards of 60,000 hours.
Industrial routers generally last longer because they are made of more robust (expensive) components due to the number of operations they need to carry out in a given day.
We’ve already mentioned the most common reason routers fail above (poor ventilation), however, let’s dive into some more specific reasons you may be having connectivity issues with your router and how to fix them.
Troubleshooting Router Connection Problems
This seems like an obvious one, but don’t overlook it. Check that the plug providing power to your router is securely fastened and that all Ethernet cables are seated properly.
Overheating and/or Overloading
A home router will generate heat under heavy loads. If you have several devices connected and many of them are simultaneously streaming, you can expect your router to be on “over-drive”.
An overloaded router can act erratically and suffer from packet loss.
A short-term fix is to switch off the router and let it cool down. If this problem occurs frequently, make sure that the vents are not blocked to allow enough airflow and try taking to a much cooler spot.
Lastly, you may need to consider upgrading your router to one with higher performance spec’s. Consider upgrading your router to one of our recommendations below, or add another second router for the network to assist the existing one in handling the load.
Wireless Signal Interference
Wi-Fi interference is often the cause of connectivity problems. Some devices in households, such as microwaves and cordless phones, can cause signal interference, particularly at the 2.4 GHz range. A fix may be as simple as repositioning your router if possible.
Other forms of interference can come from the channels your Wi-Fi signals are transmitting on. At times you may see one or many networks of your neighbors when trying to connect to your Wi-Fi network.
More often than not, these routers are pre-configured to use default broadcast channels. Changing the channel your broadcasting over can help solve these types of interference problems.
We recommend this article for more information on how to find the best Wi-Fi channels.
Outdated Hardware or Software
It is common for routers to malfunction after a long period of regular usage. Electrical surges can also affect the functionality of the router. Repairing a router is not feasible because it has a small number of moving parts.
Before giving up on the router altogether, check if there is a firmware update available. A new firmware may have patches for overloading problems in some cases.
Mismatched Wi-Fi Security Settings
Mismatches in configurations of two Wi-Fi machines like the router and a PC are a typical source of wireless network configuration collisions. It prevents them from achieving a network link to ensure that all Wi-Fi systems are compliant; check the settings listed below to ensure compatibility.
- Network mode.
- Security mode.
- Security key.
Top Performing Routers on Amazon
Below is our list of the top 3 performing routers available on Amazon right now. If you’re in the market for a new router, these options will not disappoint.
#1. ASUS GT-AC5300
It has a desk-top-grade processor that controls the 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It also contains eight Gigabit LAN ports for wired devices within the GT-AC5300.
The ASUS GT-AC5300 also has the ROG-themed gaming center that allows for simple point-and-click operation over all of the router’s features, including the Trend Micro-powered built-in intrusion detection device.
- Exceptional performance
- Outstanding range
- Built-in defense from cyber-attacks for the rest of your life
- A total of eight Gigabit LAN ports are available.
- Quite expensive
- A bit heavy
#2. ASUS RT-AC88U
Another router from Asus, the RT-AC88U is among the fastest 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers in its class with data speeds of up to 3100 Mbps. We love this router because it comes with 8 built-in Gigabit LAN ports on the back. If you can run wires to your router, then you’re going to love this added capacity. It also supports the transmission on two bands simultaneously and comes with built-in software protection by Trend Micro.
- supports two bands transmission mechanism simultaneously.
- Built-in protection software.
- Wide range coverage.
- Quite affordable.
- The 802.11ac speed is a bit slower.
- Quite heavy.
#3. TP-Link ARCHER C90 AC1900
The TP-Link Archer C90 comes stock with a 1 GHz dual-core processor, USB 3.0, and 2.0 ports for printer and file sharing. It can transmit on both 2.4 and 5 GHz and supports the 802.11ac protocol. It also has three antennas that provide excellent signal strength in any direction.
- Quite affordable
- Quality performance
- Easy to set up
- Sleek design
- 802.11n 5 GHz is a slower wireless standard.
- Poorly designed user interface
- Impossible to mount it on the wall.
How Do You Know If You Need a Newer Router?
You may not sometimes notice that you need a new router. However, below are some tips that will help you know that it is time to say goodbye to your old router and get a new one.
If your router keeps overheating despite cleaning the vents regularly, it is an indication that it has become old and you need to get a new one.
Need for more speed
Your internet requirements will change as time passes. What worked for you some three years ago may not be of much help now. It may be due to the increased number of gadgets you own that need internet connectivity or new device models requiring a more incredible speed.
Constant connectivity dropping
If you find that your connectivity decreases as you link new gadgets to your network, it is best to upgrade your router. New model routers are capable of supporting several devices on their networks without experiencing significant speed drops. These routers also have several bands, allowing you to split your links.
Innovative technology continues to advance at an incredible rate. This suggests that newer routers are more equipped to keep pace with evolving technologies. In this era of IoT, you’ll need a router that can keep up with the demand.
Status lights do not function properly
When your router’s lights are not functioning properly, this is a clear indication that something is wrong. The cost to fix a router will be more expensive than buying a new one – so really, this one is a no-brainer.
Failure to start correctly
Inconsistent or regular reboots indicate that your router has failed beyond repair. Reboot issues may also be caused by excess heating.
An unresponsive router may be due to incorrect connectivity of the power cable. However, if the problem persists even after checking the power cable, it is high time you replaced your router.
Lack of Wi-Fi connection
If Wi-Fi signals are not reaching all your devices, it may be time to upgrade your router. There are also options to implement Wi-Fi range extenders.
How Often Should You Replace Your Router?
This answer will vary from person to person, depending on an individual’s preferences or the availability of resources. Still, a router should be replaced after every four to five years.
There are many reasons that may compel you to purchase a new router (aside from some of the issues already discussed). Here we will examine three of them:
One of the reasons is the need for faster speeds. As technology is improving, new routers are being produced, giving faster speeds, and you will not want to be left behind using a very slow internet, which is very annoying.
Another reason for wanting to replace your router is due to Wi-Fi coverage related issues. Using the internet comfortably from any point of a home with reliable speed is a satisfying experience, especially if you have a large house.
Lastly, newer models in the market leverage better technologies, coverage and protocols. You may get to a point where you need to update your router to take advantage of these emerging technologies.